Letters form Gary Critchley
Imprisoned by my number
In the Victorian local prisons, if you were to walk on to a wing after mealtimes, apart from the hum of various radios, etc., you would be forgiven for thinking it was derelict with everything so still. Yet behind every door are people, some alone lost in private nightmares, some stoned without a care in the world, and other being abused, bullied etc by 'cell-mates', and none of it is immediately evident but every now and then a scream will come from this artificial wilderness.
Imprisoned by my number – As I've said before it is not just the bricks, bars and locks that imprison me but the cold dehumanising use of a 'prison number' before (sometimes in place of) your name. This barcode like number is more of a barrier between you and freedom/humanity than any architectural feature. My number B39969 has become the walls/bricks/bars that contain me – imprisoning my soul
The whole panel was a total shambles, To begin with they were short of chairs (bearing in mind these panels are supposed to equate with High Court hearings) and so, as each witness came forward to give evidence, they had to bring their chair backwards and forwards with them.
I have, on previous panels, always been called to give evidence and be questioned first - but on this occasion the Judge (a rather grumpy sort who fidgeted that much that I suspect that his stockings and suspenders may have been chafing him a little) decided to reverse the process and leave me until last.
There were supposed to be 6 witnesses – however firstly the bloke from the Ley Community didn't turn up, or send anyone in his place. Secondly, the judge called the two psychologists first ( prison one and an independent one named Dr Pratt – though he's anything but one) and though they were both favourable, the Judge and a Lady Psychiatrist who helped form the panel along with some business mogul bloke, insisted on asking both of them medical questions – which they said they couldn't answer – despite the fact that the Senior Manager of Healthcare sat waiting to give evidence.
However after about an hour during which time the Judge laboriously typed the complete minutes himself on a lap-top we were all told to take a break.
Then 10 minutes or so later everyone was summoned back into the room and treated to a long rambling speech from the fidgeting cross-dresser, the gist of which was that he had decided (presumably because of his unanswered medical questions which he asked the wrong witnesses) to adjourn the hearing until February 2009 to allow for a full report from a consultant rheumatologist (despite the fact that
I've never had and don't have rheumatism but was diagnosed as having severe osteo-arthritis.
He wanted to know from the consultant whether I was 'allowed' to come off pain-killing drugs, despite the fact that they were already assured that I was coming off them but had been recommended to stay on them until the time came.
But the point was that I had already decided to go without any pain medication, anti-depressants or anything to get this moving, but obviously the Judge feels that's not my decision to make but a 'rheumatologist's' (who's speciality must be osteo-arthritis and depression?)
Clever these judges! Everyone was called back later to say that it was adjourned until 2009 (February) or for 6 months to get a Rheumatologists report on whether I am 'allowed' to come off the pain-killers I am on.
What a day!